The Pulse: NRF Day Two, 15 January Recap

view of manhattan, new york, with yellow taxi cab blurred

The day two expo floor buzzed with thousands of enthusiastic retail aficionados chatting, networking, and learning. The energy is high heading into day three of the NRF Big Show. But before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s what you need to know about day two. This blog will give you the rundown of the thought leadership that took center stage today.

READ MORE: 2024 Retail Trends Worth Having On Your Radar

The Pulse: Today’s Tech Talks

Our thought leadership program, The Pulse, featured four sessions at our booth (#4657) on day two of the show.

Wawa-ing The Crowds With Advanced Analytics

Joe Shasteen, Global Manager of Advanced Analytics at RetailNext, chatted with Bridget Troy and Haley Gleeson from Wawa, Inc. to discuss how the much-loved convenience store and gas station chain uses the RetailNext suite to unlock potential in its stores. In the past, store teams would count traffic manually, but RetailNext was introduced five years ago as a loss prevention solution. Since then, Wawa, Inc. has made the platform its own and expanded its use far beyond asset protection chain-wide.

One of the first big projects Wawa, Inc. embarked on was the journey of its coffee buyers. Coffee customers were segmented into groups (including those who bought adjacencies versus those who only came in for coffee and promotional versus non-promotional period traffic). With this data, the brand could rework its coffee strategy. Bean-to-cup coffee was introduced to diversify and improve the customer experience. However, bean-to-batch then superseded the bean-to-cup process to drive labor efficiencies as well as cut customer wait times while maintaining the freshness and quality of the product.

The Hidden Gems In Jewelry’s Performance

David Sherwood, CEO of Daniel's Jewelers, joined Jenna Suhl, an Account Director at RetailNext, to discuss how RetailNext has helped this family-run jewelry mainstay stay on top. Now in its third generation, this jewelry retailer has embraced technological innovation to optimize the in-store experience. 

The brand is in the business of celebrations! Jewelry is an expression of thanks, love, and appreciation. During the pandemic, the brand remained competitive as shoppers felt renewed gratitude for those around them during the quarantine or lockdown periods. The growth has remained strong since, despite inflationary pressures. Agility has been at the heart of their success: during the pandemic, they opted for more data-driven approaches to success measurement. Visibility into store operations has become ingrained in the culture since its adoption in 2020.

Benchmarking performance has been crucial for understanding what success looks like. Each store deals with a different set of influences and considerations. For example, if a store sells a Rolex on a day, it may be the best-performing store in the fleet that day; however, this couldn’t be the only measurement of store team performance. Instead, a more nuanced approach was needed. The brand has leveraged these metrics to optimize labor and trading hours and uses RetailNext as a loss-prevention platform.

👀 Keep an eye out for the forthcoming case study!

Store Traffic Trends Unpacked

Global Head of Advanced Analytics, Joe Shasteen, presented the 2023 YoY traffic trends, focusing on festive traffic. Joe emphasized the positive performance of key shopping occasions in physical stores, such as Black Friday, Easter, Mother's Day, and Super Saturday. He explained that since 2017, these occasions have provided remarkable spikes in store traffic, and the levels are now comparable to the pre-pandemic performance, indicating that brick-and-mortar stores are performing as well as ever.

The Retail Venue (R)evolution: The Future Of Shopping Malls

Bil Blane Ingraham, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Revenue at Centennial, presented on the future of malls across the US. To stay relevant, malls have to evolve into all-inclusive lifestyle centres. The reinvention of super regional malls is a long-term, ongoing project to breathe new life into older infrastructures. 

Mall developers and owners are focussed on creating immersive spaces with green spaces and a curated, varied tenant mix including fitness spaces, eateries, and entertainment facilities. “Walkable urban villages” are the future of shopping malls worldwide, according to Bil. To measure the impact of these huge, investment-heavy developments, Centennial has chosen RetailNext as one of its technology partners.

Keynote Callout: NRF’s 2024 Visionary Award

Edward Stack, Ex-CEO and Executive Chairman of DICK’s Sporting Goods, sat down with Matthew Shay, the President and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), for a session off the back of Edward being presented with the NRF’s 2024 Visionary Award. DICK’s Sporting Goods was founded by Edward’s father in 1948 with $300 from a cookie jar. Now, this legacy retailer is a Fortune 500 company. One thing is clear about the company’s growth: business is not linear. DICK’s almost went out of business in 1987 and then again in 1995. Edward’s advice? “Keep going and surround yourself with good people.”

When Edward took over from his dad, they began expanding one store at a time. This slow and steady approach was implemented to guard against growing too quickly. DICK’s has emerged stronger than ever, partly because of Edward’s philosophy that “You’ll learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.”

When asked why he loves retail, Ed didn’t hesitate: it’s always changing, never static. You must constantly innovate to stay in step with the industry’s complexity. The only constant is change; technology can support retail businesses through this. From marketing to supply chains, technology is crucial.

NRF 2024 Day Two Keynote Address

Edward also recommends that the further away you get from the customer at an organizational level, the more you should listen. Team members who are customer-facing (or, should we say, ‘athlete’-facing) should be doing the talking, and leadership should be doing the listening. In this way, stores become a source of exceptional qualitative and quantitative intelligence, and store teams are crucial to the success of this process.

Importantly, the company is based on values. This is evidenced by the DICK’s Sporting Goods Sports Matter foundation, a commitment to not selling assault-style rifles and an internal ban on selling ammunition to those under 21 after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Edward is also passionate about addressing education inequality, and the company’s foundation is key to approaching this. Everything DICK’s does is with intention and purpose; the brand and culture are about more than simply moving merchandise. 

“It’s an exciting time to be in retail,” concluded Edward. Technology and shifting expectations from customers are shaping major industry-wide changes. Their House of Sport stores boast huge square meterage, despite being warned against this by analysts and economists. This format has been well-received as it expands the customer journey in a valuable way and offers more experiential elements to the store experience.

READ MORE: What Lies Ahead For Retail Media Networks In 2024

Quote Of The Day

“Everything revolves around people…it’s no different than sports. It’s all about the team.”

  • Edward ‘Ed’ Stack, Executive Chairman at DICK'S Sporting Goods

Visit Booth #4657 to end your annual Big Show off strong! We’ll be hosting exciting giveaways, presenting live product demonstrations, and sharing everything you need to know about the retail landscape in 2024. We’ll see you there! 

READ MORE: Why RetailNext Is The Ultimate In-Store Analytics Platform

About the author:

Headshot: Ashton Kirsten

Ashton Kirsten, Marketing Communications Coordinator, RetailNext

Ashton holds a Master's Degree in English and is passionate about starting conversations through impactful content and executing data-driven creative strategies. She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she can be found reading, writing and researching.

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